Bitcoin is a speculative asset. This means that the price of bitcoin can go up and down depending on what people are feeling about it. Many different factors contribute to this, including supply, demand, general sentiment, and more.
The finite supply cap for bitcoin makes it an interesting investment opportunity since there will only ever be 21 million bitcoins mined on the bitcoin blockchain before the supply is capped forever!
Bitcoin vs. Gold and Other Speculative Assets
Bitcoin is very similar to other speculative assets like gold, real estate, and collectibles. In fact, bitcoin is often considered a store of value and is one of the key reasons some people find it so interesting! Bitcoin is also becoming an increasingly popular means of exchange. In the simplest sense, bitcoin has value because people think it does and are willing to trade goods, services, or other currencies for bitcoin. It's different from a traditional fiat currency that is backed by a government. Still, something you may not realize is that standard currency is speculative as well in that it largely relies on what people are willing to exchange for it.
While you may not notice it, the value of the US Dollar, British Pound, and even the Euro are all fluctuating constantly, yet in most cases, you are unlikely to notice this in the short term. However, for some countries where hyperinflation and other economic phenomenon have kicked off, the day-to-day value of their local fiat currency has become an important topic.
When you look at other asset classes a little more closely, bitcoin being a speculative asset with no physical form doesn't feel so weird after all!
Bitcoin's Valuable Properties
- Store of value
- Easy to transport
- Cheap remittances
Bitcoin has value because people think it does and is willing to trade goods, services, or other currencies for bitcoin. The fact that you can't physically hold bitcoin doesn't make it any less valuable than something like gold, another commodity with intrinsic value. While the price of cryptocurrencies will always depend on supply and demand to some degree, it's also worth looking at some of the other factors that come into play.
Bitcoin is not just another currency but has properties more closely represented by gold or silver than fiat money like USD. While these commodities are loosely limited in supply and can be used as an alternative store of value to paper cash, they're also mined, printed, or otherwise created at various rates that can change at any time, with even paper trading of assets like gold making things less transparent. In the case of bitcoin, things are a lot clearer given the supply cape and the fixed rate that coins can enter the market as they are mined.
Bitcoin as a Store of Value
Beyond being a speculative asset, bitcoin is also widely seen as a store of value. While this may seem ironic given the volatility that impacts price so heavily in the short term, it's actually very similar to other stores such as gold or collectibles.
As the value of bitcoin has continued to increase over the long term, many people are taking this as an opportunity to diversify their savings or retirement accounts by adding a small portion of cryptocurrency into the mix. In addition, the fact that it's not directly connected to many traditional assets results in many investors looking to bitcoin as a potential hedge against other traditional investments. How strongly bitcoin is correlated to more conventional assets is commonly argued and is likely to become more apparent as bitcoin continues to mature while other markets cycle around it.
In countries dealing with the extreme volatility of their traditional fiat currencies, bitcoin can provide a far more stable alternative, even when taking into account its own often high degree of volatility. In many regions, remittances are being performed using bitcoin at an increasing rate. No longer do you need to trust an expensive third-party remittance service, and you don't even need a verified bank account or other types of financial institutions at all. Bitcoin isn't only a great store of value. It’s also a fantastic way to transfer value without many of the issues faced when trying to move value long distances using traditional fiat currencies, precious metals and removes the risk of counterfeit money.
While many still call bitcoin "digital gold," its potential far exceeds this as the bitcoin network sprawls the world even though no single entity oversees bitcoin. While value is relative, it's hard to argue that digital currencies like bitcoin don't provide a strong value proposition and that bitcoin does indeed have value while exploring other novel concepts such as that bitcoin introduces digital scarcity. While there are no true global currencies, bitcoin is arguably the closest thing we have to a payment system or currency that is truly global.
Bitcoin Price Volatility
The price of bitcoin is still incredibly volatile, at least compared to some more stable assets and larger local currencies. However, it's also important to keep things in perspective. While headlines about bitcoin price movements can be enough to send people into a panic or frenzy of excitement, the rise, and fall of the market are something that can be expected with such a comparatively new asset that can be considered to stand in a class of its own in many ways.
While decentralized payment systems like bitcoin are often compared to credit cards, it's essential to acknowledge that bitcoin isn't just another digital payment solution like your online banking, PayPal, or Cash App.
While the future is still uncertain, bitcoin has intrinsic value through its ability to act as an alternative store of value with properties beyond cash for investors and bitcoin users. Ultimately, whether or not this will be enough in the long term is something we'll have to wait and see.
For over a decade now, bitcoin has continued to grow, show us new ways to consider value, and has helped provoke the growth of a massive cryptocurrency ecosystem and monetary systems that are expanding by the day.